Theory debunked + How primate ancestors survived asteroid + Ancient beer & cheese

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Popular theory of Native American origins debunked by genetics and skeletal biology
https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/930783

INTRO: A widely accepted theory of Native American origins coming from Japan has been attacked in a new scientific study, which shows that the genetics and skeletal biology “simply does not match-up”. The findings, published today in the peer-reviewed journal PaleoAmerica, are likely to have a major impact on how we understand Indigenous Americans’ arrival to the Western Hemisphere.

Based on similarities in stone artifacts, many archaeologists currently believe that Indigenous Americans, or ‘First Peoples’, migrated to the Americas from Japan about 15,000 years ago. It is thought they moved along the northern rim of the Pacific Ocean, which included the Bering Land Bridge, until they reached the northwest coast of North America.

From there the First Peoples fanned out across the interior parts of the continent and farther south, reaching the southern tip of South America within less than two thousand years. The theory is based, in part, on similarities in stone tools made by the ‘Jomon’ people (an early inhabitant of Japan, 15,000 years ago), and those found in some of the earliest known archaeological sites inhabited by ancient First Peoples.

But this new study, out today in PaleoAmerica – the flagship journal of the Center for the Study of the First Americans at Texas A&M University – suggests otherwise... (MORE)


Primates’ ancestors may have left trees to survive asteroid
https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/931430

INTRO: When an asteroid struck 66 million years ago and wiped out dinosaurs not related to birds and three-quarters of life on Earth, early ancestors of primates and marsupials were among the only tree-dwelling (arboreal) mammals that survived, according to a new study. Arboreal species were especially at risk of extinction due to global deforestation caused by wildfires from the asteroid’s impact.

In the study, computer models, fossil records and information from living mammals revealed that most of the surviving mammals did not rely on trees, though the few arboreal mammals that lived on – including human ancestors – may have been versatile enough to adapt to the loss of trees.

The study points to the influence of this extinction event, known as the Cretaceous-Paleogene (K-Pg) boundary, on shaping the early evolution and diversification of mammals.

“One possible explanation for how primates survived across the K-Pg boundary, in spite of being arboreal, might be due to some behavioral flexibility, which may have been a critical factor that let them survive,” said Jonathan Hughes, the paper’s co-first author and a doctoral student in the lab of Jeremy Searle, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Co-first author Jacob Berv, Ph.D. ’19, is currently a Life Sciences Fellow at the University of Michigan.

The study, “Ecological Selectivity and the Evolution of Mammalian Substrate Preference Across the K-Pg Boundary,” published October 11 in the journal Ecology and Evolution... (MORE)


Ancient poop shows people in present-day Austria drank beer and ate blue cheese up to 2,700 years ago
https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/930931

INTRO: Human feces don’t usually stick around for long—and certainly not for thousands of years. But exceptions to this general rule are found in a few places in the world, including prehistoric salt mines of the Austrian UNESCO World Heritage area Hallstatt-Dachstein/Salzkammergut. Now, researchers who’ve studied ancient fecal samples (or paleofeces) from these mines have uncovered some surprising evidence: the presence of two fungal species used in the production of blue cheese and beer. The findings appear in the journal Current Biology on October 13.

“Genome-wide analysis indicates that both fungi were involved in food fermentation and provide the first molecular evidence for blue cheese and beer consumption during Iron Age Europe,” says Frank Maixner (@FrankMaixner) of the Eurac Research Institute for Mummy Studies in Bolzano, Italy.

“These results shed substantial new light on the life of the prehistoric salt miners in Hallstatt and allow an understanding of ancient culinary practices in general on a whole new level,” adds Kerstin Kowarik (@KowarikKerstin) of the Museum of Natural History Vienna. “It is becoming increasingly clear that not only were prehistoric culinary practices sophisticated, but also that complex processed foodstuffs as well as the technique of fermentation have held a prominent role in our early food history.”

Earlier studies already had shown the potential for studies of prehistoric paleofeces from salt mines to offer important insights into early human diet and health. In the new study, Maixner, Kowarik, and their colleagues added in-depth microscopic, metagenomic, and proteomic analyses—to explore the microbes, DNA, and proteins that were present in those poop samples... (MORE)
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